Climate and Gender Equity Research Grant Awardee
Developing Gender Equity in Mathematics Classrooms: What Does it Take to Succeed?
Investigator Team: Angela Hodge, Assistant Professor, Mathematics and Teacher Education and Christina Weber, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Although there are increasing numbers of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines (Astin et al., 1983; Eisenhart & Holland, 2001), women and other minorities in mathematics classrooms that the serve STEM disciplines are still largely absent (Pattatucci, 1998; Wyer et al., 2001). This is particularly the case at NDSU. In 2008 at NDSU, there were 353 men compared to a mere 40 women enrolled in Differential Equations. Because Differential Equations is a required course for advanced engineers and mathematics majors, the lack of women taking this class indicates that few women are moving into professional careers in STEM disciplines. In our research project, we use this concern as our starting point to ask questions about how to better understand and serve women in mathematics programs and fields where mathematics acts as a gatekeeper. In particular, we are interested in what has led the women majoring in mathematics and mathematic driven disciplines (particularly engineering) to pursue and succeed in these majors. Although there are studies that provide personal narratives about women’s success in STEM fields (Keller, 2001; Pattatucci, 1998; Sands, 2001), there is little research that examines women’s success in mathematics classrooms. It is our goal to broaden this understanding and provide a working model that can encourage systemic support for women in the mathematics classroom. We propose a mixed-methods study that seeks to answer the following questions: 1) Given the lack of women and minorities in the classroom, how can instructors develop equity and equality in mathematics programs and fields where mathematics acts as a gatekeeper into STEM disciplines? 2) What factors do students attribute to their success in their mathematics classes? 3) What factors helped underrepresented students select STEM majors and persist in their selected STEM fields of study (in particular in their mathematics coursework)?